There is a mountain face in Switzerland that from 1933 to 1938 held the attention of the world. Not just the attention of the mountaineering world, but the entire world. A mountain face so steep and imposing that it had become legend: one that, at last count, has killed at least 64 people who have attempted to climb it.
Extending in an unbroken upward thrust for nearly 2 kilometres, this vertical and overhanging face comprised of mixed rock and ice has variously been described as ‘ferociously steep', ‘inaccessible', ‘unclimbable' and ‘murderous'. Known as the Nordwand, German for ‘North Face', it belongs to the 3970-metre-high mountain called the Eiger.
Located in the Bernese Oberland in the northernmost portion of the Alps, the Eiger acts as a weather beacon and attracts the earliest of bad weather moving down from the northern plains of Europe. Not only is the Eiger's North Face incredibly high and steep, it is also somewhat concave, giving it a tendency to collect and amplify storms as they hit. Sunny days and warm temperatures can turn to maelstrom and freezing conditions within minutes, creating blizzards, deadly rockfalls and avalanches. The normal rules for mountain weather just don't seem to apply here.
The Nordwand is a powerful metaphor for the world we are living in today.
At this critical juncture in our history, we too are experiencing unpredictable and violent storms. Fuelled by never before seen and ever more complex interactions between people, ...